Five Signs Your Sci Fi may be Sci Fi Noir by P. Temple Hickey
My young adult science fiction novel, The Nostradamus Code is listed in Amazon under a variety of science fiction subcategories. There’s techno thriller, suspense, cyberpunk, space opera (although it doesn’t take place in space), dark fantasy and a variety of other genres including the obligatory dystopian.
I’m not so picky on the subcategories so long as it’s listed as young adult and science fiction but one category conspicuous by its absence is Sci Fi Noir. Only recently, when I read the description of some novels as Sci Fi Noir, did I began to suspect that of all the subgenres out there, Noir might actually apply to my book.
Here are five reasons to suspect that your science fiction novel may be Sci Fi Noir:
1. The action is described in the first person by a lone wolf protagonist on a pursuit to find a truth somebody wants hidden. Sure, Mike Hammer had Velda but ultimately it’s our hero’s quest so the resolution rests on their shoulders alone.
2. You protagonist gets beaten to a pulp regularly. This is a great staple in noir, our hero can usually handle themselves in a fight but occasionally they get overwhelmed and end up bruised, unconscious, shot, tied to a chair or all four. Film Noir detectives don’t come much tougher than Humphrey Bogart and even he frequently found himself bruised, unconscious, shot and tied to a chair and still able to wise-crack his way out of it.
3. There’s a McGuffin in your plot. A McGuffin is an object or goal that your main character desperately wants and which is also sought by his enemies. The Maltese Falcon is the classic example in Noir as is the glowing box in Kiss Me Deadly (remember Tarantino’s homage in Pulp Fiction?). In The Nostradamus Code it’s a computer file containing information that could ruin the career of a world leader.
4. Femme Fatale or Homme Fatale. A lot of fiction includes love interests but Noir fiction includes a love interest whose loyalties and motives are not entirely obvious from the outset. The relationship is usually dangerous and confusing but irresistible. Vivian Rutledge in The Big Sleep is an example of a femme fatale (beautifully played by Lauren Bacall in the original film version).
5. Your novel takes place in a gritty urban setting. Noir hardly ever takes place in the countryside in the summertime. Not even in the city when it’s summer. It has to be a city (preferably overcrowded and in a state of decay for Sci Fi Noir (see Blade Runner) and cold enough to wear a coat. The Nostradamus Code is set in New Stockton which is a city on a distant human outpost which has suffered a major economic collapse. The buildings are so tall that they block out the sunlight meaning that it’s usually dark and cold enough to wear a coat at all times.
So, if you’re looking for a space opera then you might be disappointed but if it’s young adult Sci Fi Noir you’re after then The Nostradamus Code ticks all of the above boxes.
ABOUT THE BOOK
YA Sci-Fi Thriller
Published: July 19, 2017
Publisher: Double Dragon Publishing
On a settlement planet far into the future the worldwide economic crash has turned New Stockton into a city broken by political corruption and pervasive organized crime. Scotland Murrow’s journalist father has gone missing while investigating a twelve year old murder case. The victim was found with an encrypted file, known as the Nostradamus Code, imbedded in his thumbnail leading Scotland to believe that the file contains the secret to his father’s fate. Aided by his reformed junkie friend and a journalist who may have her own secret agenda Scotland scours the city’s seedy underbelly, traverses the unchartered outlands and breaches a fortified Citadel as he peels away layer upon layer of the Nostradamus Code to confront his biggest fears and uncover a plot to bring down the most powerful man on the planet.
About the Author
Patrick Temple Hickey has written for TV shows on BBC and Ireland’s RTE. He contributes editorial and single panel cartoons to various newspapers and magazines all over the world and has graphic stories published in independent anthologies such as Slambang, The Shiznit and Don’t Touch Me. His first YA SCi FI novel, The Nostradamus Code, was published with Double Dragon Publishing in July 2017.